How A Real Estate Agent Started A $20K/Month Blog
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey there, I’m Michael Morris, Founder & CEO of Pursuit of Passive Income. We exist to help guide aspiring entrepreneurs in their quest to create passive income streams, achieve financial freedom and create a life they love.
As a business, we make money through sponsored posts, consulting, and, most notably, affiliate marketing. Fortunately, I committed early on to run the business like a startup, so rather than becoming a tortured writer, I hired a great team to help me create content and grow rather quickly.
Today, we generate more than $20K in revenue each month, most of which is reinvested into the business to grow and help as many people as we can!
Starting a blog provides an opportunity to create a long-term business that is unkillable.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My first passion was commercial real estate. I started as an agent out of college and achieved some success in an industry that’s tough to break into, transacting over $100 Million in my first 5 years in the business.
While most would consider this a successful career, I became increasingly stressed out by the fact that I didn’t know when my next paycheck was coming. Commercial Real Estate Agents are typically commission-based, which means if I wasn’t completing transactions, I made $0.
It’s hard to plan financially when your income is that sporadic and unpredictable. I knew I needed to create some passive income and build a business that would pay me regularly month after month.
I’d love to tell you that I started the Pursuit of Passive Income and the rest is history. Unfortunately, I FAILED more times than I care to admit!
As an aspiring entrepreneur, you need to be ready to fail. Your first business may end up a success, but I can assure you you’re going to fail along the way. Be prepared and move forward with the understanding that every failure is one step closer to success.
I tried everything, including social media marketing, online courses, and a few attempts at dropshipping. But I quickly realized that these “shiny object” business models were being promoted by YouTubers so they could make their actual money selling courses on the back end.
Finally, I came across blogging. Starting a blog provides an opportunity to create a long-term business that is unkillable. It takes some major time and effort upfront to get started, but once you’ve built the foundation for your business, there are unlimited ways to make money.
The best part? A blog typically provides a sustainable monthly income that grows over time. As you continue to grow your traffic, your income increases as well!
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I chose to start a blog for several very specific reasons, including the following:
Low Startup Cost. You can technically start a blog with about $5.00 although I don’t necessarily recommend it. A bare bones blog can be run using a few tools & plugins that will run you about $150 per month. What other business can you start with $150?
Unlimited Income Potential. I mentioned this earlier but bloggers typically make recurring monthly income. So while you might first get to $1,000 per month and then grow to $10,000 per month to upwards of $100,000 a month, that is income you can count on month after month after month.
Location Independence. Blogging is considered a lifestyle business, which means it provides a full-time income and can be operated from anywhere in the world. I have the freedom to spend a month at the beach or on a mountain out west and still be able to operate my business.
Passive Income. You’ve probably figured this out by now, but passive income has always been a personal goal of mine. Blogging is a business that can be fully automated. I have 2 freelance writers that write most of my content which allows me to operate the business at a high level without spending long hours ensuring its growth.
It’s far too easy to get discouraged as an entrepreneur when you’re focused on the result. You can’t build a $20,000-per-month business in 6 weeks! Focus on the process and aim to accomplish just one small task each day.
Describe the process of launching the business.
The first step of launching a blog is to choose your niche. I have always wanted an online business, and had plenty of experience from previous failed attempts that I decided to create content around making money online!
With this clearly defined niche, I was able to narrow down my article topics based on strategic keyword research, then use several SEO tools to ensure I was creating articles that would show up in search results.
When looking for high-value keywords, the best opportunities are terms with high search volume and low keyword difficulty. I use a tool called Ahrefs which provides monthly search volume and a keyword difficulty score. I typically look for keywords or phrases in my niche that have 5K+ monthly searches and a keyword difficulty score under 40, otherwise, you’re going to be competing with big brands like Forbes, Business Insider, etc.
From there, it’s all about building relationships in your niche, which I have been able to accomplish quickly with a lot of outreach. As you continue to build relationships and get more links to your website, Google begins to trust you more and more, and your traffic gradually increases, along with your income!
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
A blog is a mediator between a search and a purchase. A consumer types something into Google, such as “Best SEO Tool For Bloggers” and they find an article from a blog like Pursuit of Passive Income where we provide commentary on our favorite SEO tool, Surfer SEO.
We cover what it is, all the features & benefits, pricing, and more. When a consumer understands the product, they click through to the company’s website and purchase the product. So how do we make money?
The link they click is what is called an affiliate link that tracks incoming traffic. When the consumer clicks through from Pursuit of Passive Income and purchases Surfer SEO, we receive an affiliate commission.
Every affiliate program is different, but Surfer pays its affiliates 25% recurring commissions for every customer they send over. So for each customer we refer, we make 25% of each subscription ($50-$100 value) every month.
As far as retaining customers, we only promote products and services we use ourselves that we truly love and recommend. Our goal is to be as transparent and honest as possible, and feel that the customers will keep coming back as long as we continue to earn their trust.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
As a company, I couldn’t be happier with where we are and where we are headed. Right now, I’m ultra-focused on creating systems and processes to create the best possible content for our readers. Part of this effort includes the ability to publish content quickly. The more content we publish, the more people we can help.
I currently have two great writers that are creating articles based on my keyword research while I focus on building relationships in our niche. Going forward, I want to hire a content manager and put the blog portion of the business completely on autopilot.
This will allow me to focus on the next steps in the Pursuit of Passive Income. The goal has always been to help people create a passive income lifestyle business of their own. To that end, I want to start a YouTube channel with free content on how to start a profitable blogging business, then eventually create a more in-depth online course to consolidate everything I know in one easy-to-follow platform.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The #1 thing I’ve learned in starting Pursuit of Passive Income is the importance of treating your new business like a startup. You must invest in your business from the start, whether in tools & software or in people to help you grow. I call this investing in yourself and any investment you make in yourself is a good investment!
The second is to focus on the process rather than the result. It’s far too easy to get discouraged as an entrepreneur when you’re focused on the result. You can’t build a $20,000-per-month business in 6 weeks! Focus on the process and aim to accomplish just one small task each day. After a couple of weeks, you’ll look back on the progress you’ve made which will motivate you to keep going!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I have two helpful articles that provide more background on the tools I use for blogging & affiliate marketing. With that said, here are the tools I can’t live without:
BigScoots. BigScoots provides web hosting, which is essential to getting your blog online.
Ahrefs. Ahrefs is the keyword research tool we use to identify opportunities to write about in our niche. It is also great for competitor research as well as outreach.
Surfer SEO. Surfer SEO integrates with Google Docs to help us ensure our articles are optimized to rank higher in Google Search.
Jasper . Jasper is a powerful AI writing tool to help you overcome writer's block and create articles faster than ever.
ConvertKit. ConvertKit is the best email software for bloggers without question.
Grammarly . Grammarly ensures your writing is mistake-free for optimal rankings in search.
Fiverr. Fiverr is a top tool I recommend for just about every business owner. You can find reasonably priced help for just about any task you need to grow.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
There are many podcasts out there that provide so much valuable information. The two that I love are Entrepreneur on Fire by John Lee Dumas & Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn.
A blog I love and respect is Dollar Sprout. I look up to Jeff & Ben and have been super impressed with what they’ve been able to create!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
It’s really easy to get sucked into the latest get-rich-quick business model being pushed out on YouTube or through Instagram Ads. Most of these “influencers” are just trying to make money selling their courses.
My advice is to pick a business model that is sustainable long term. Of course, there will be some serious effort to get up and running, and it will be tough!
When you find yourself stuck in a rut, just know that successful business owners are willing to do the work that others aren’t willing to do. Don’t ever give up, push through the hard times, and it will all be worth it in the end!
As far as business models with low startup costs, Blogging is a great one and my second recommendation would be to start a YouTube Channel. Once you build an audience, you’ll never have to worry about money again!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I’m always looking to hire great freelancers. I need all the help I can get! With that said, a goal of mine is to keep my business lean so I don’t have management headaches. So if you’re looking to gain some experience and do good work without needing much guidance, definitely reach out to us!
Where can we go to learn more?
Definitely head over to Pursuit of Passive Income to check it out if you haven’t already. I try to be very accessible to our audience, so feel free to shoot me an email to ask a question or just talk about life!
We also offer a Free Beginner Blogger Email Course that provides a ton of value for aspiring bloggers, from setting up your blog to growing your traffic and ultimately making money in your business!
Other than that, thanks for having me!
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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